Muffling the kick drum is one of the more common techniques to take. Not only does it add warmth and attack, kick drum muffling also provides better feel. Sometimes external dampening systems on your toms and snare are also necessary. First and foremost, you want to ensure that you’ve tuned your toms and snare to the drum itself.
To be honest, I’m not a huge fan of muffling the drums. My favorite drum sound is one that resonates naturally with a full sustain. However, when recording and mic’ing live, light dampening (not muffling, there’s a difference) can help rid some of the overtones and trouble areas.
Use Your Ears
With anything recording related there isn’t a right or wrong answer. When in doubt, use your ears. If you’ve completed all of the necessary steps in dialing in your toms, what do they sound like to you? Are they sounding great in the room but not as great when they’re under the microphones? If you’re getting a lot of extra “booing” that isn’t pleasing to the mix, external muffling can be your best friend. Before pulling your hair out trying to EQ the heck out of the drum tracks, consider external dampening. It may just be the answer.
Here’s what I recommend:
- Evans E-Ring - The E-ring is an easy-to-use external overtone control ring which ―floats on the surface of a drumhead. It rounds out and flattens the drumhead’s sound and allows for easier tuning.
- Moongel - The self-adhesive gel sticks to the surface of drums, cymbals, and most percussion instruments. The possibilities are endless, by simply moving the damper pad around the surface, you can eliminate any unwanted resonance.
- Min-EMAD Dampeners - The Min-EMAD (Externally Mounted Adjustable Damping) suppresses unwanted overtones, but retains the desired attack, tone and feel. By linking the vibrating head with the counter hoop, the Min-EMAD removes frequencies by resisting the motion of the head.
- Remo Snare Drum Dampening System - Developed in conjunction with Dave Weckl, the Active Snare Dampening System is a free floating adjustable dampening system that allows you to easily control the sustain time of your snare drum.
- Evans External Muffling - Evans makes a few bass drum batter side heads that employ an externally mounted adjustable damping system with two interchangeable damping rings allowing the player to adjust attack and focus.
Dampen, Don’t Muffle
The great thing about these products is that they are interchangeable and can be moved around easily. One of my biggest pet peeves is seeing drummers placing duct tape, cotton, tissue, etc. on the drum head. This not only defeats the purpose of the sound of the drums, but is also simply a messy and lazy form of muffling. Drums weren’t designed to be muffled. Use something that was designed to bring the best out of the drums, not the other way around.